Perceptual masking of drug stimuli

David V. Gauvin, Alice M. Young

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17 Scopus citations


Three separate drug‐discrimination experiments, using pigeon subjects, were designed to assess the modification of a morphine (MS) stimulus by d‐amphetamine (AMPH). Experiment 1 examined the drug mixture in a two‐choice discriminative procedure in three groups of subjects trained to one of three doses of MS (1.0, 3.2, or 10 mg/kg) vs. saline (SAL). Blockade of the MS stimulus by concomitant AMPH administration was training dose‐dependent. Complete blockade was found in the high‐MS (10 mg/kg) training dose (TD) group; partial blockade was found in the intermediate‐TD (3.2 mg/kg) group; and complete generalization was found in the low‐TD (1.0 mg/kg) group. Experiment 2 was designed to assess whether the MS‐AMPH mixture resulted in the creation of a functionally new stimulus. With a three‐choice drug‐discrimination procedure, two new groups were trained to discriminate between 3.2 mg/kg MS, SAL, and 1.8 mg/kg AMPH. Once training criteria were met, subjects were divided into two groups and one group's MS training dose was faded up to 10 mg/kg. Data clearly indicated that MS‐AMPH combinations did not produce novel stimuli. Experiment 3 was designed to assess the MS‐AMPH combinations in a three‐choice quantitative discrimination using 1.8 mg/kg MS vs. SAL vs. 10 mg/kg MS as discriminative stimuli. Data suggested that if masking does occur, it is a result of shifting the dose‐response function to the left (i.e., to a nondiscriminable dose). We conclude that perceptual masking of drug stimuli can occur, but the phenomenon seems dependent on training dose and/or drug and behavioral history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-162
Number of pages12
JournalDrug Development Research
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - 1989


  • amphetamine
  • morphine
  • “speedball”


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